Sorry, Loyal Readers : Today’s issue unfortunately does not highlight the early-’80s Australian rock band that brought us the megahits “ Down Under ” and “ Who Can It Be Now? ” But this week’s lead article , which focuses on one (disturbing) approach to mitigate toxic masculinity, is outstanding, an
Sorry, Loyal Readers: Today’s issue unfortunately does not highlight the early-’80s Australian rock band that brought us the megahits “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now?” But this week’s lead article, which focuses on one (disturbing) approach to mitigate toxic masculinity, is outstanding, and I highly encourage you to carve out 41 minutes of your week to give the article your attention.
If you’ve had enough of men, feel free to enjoy pieces on gentrification and surveillance, bubble tea and identity, and Dolly Parton and magnificence.
And one more thing (in case I haven’t made this abundantly clear): Thank you very much for reading my newsletter. I appreciate that we’re building a strong community that believes in reading, reflecting, and connecting.
+ Question of the Week: When’s your favorite time of the week to read The Highlighter? Hit reply and let me know!
Men at Work
If you identify as a man, and you’re feeling despondent or purposeless, or you’re exhibiting signs of toxic masculinity, maybe it’s time for a retreat in the woods, away from your friends and family, where you and 50 (white) strangers can participate in “manhood-confirming adventures,” including holotropic breathwork and anger ceremonies.
No, I’m not a proponent of this behavior. But we know that men are hurting. They make up 79% of suicides and 80% of violent crime, and their life expectancy continues to decline.
That’s why Evryman and other men-centered self-help organizations have become increasingly popular. They promise a “new masculinity” by supporting men to connect with their feelings and build emotional intelligence. But Barrett Swanson wonders whether this approach does anything to ameliorate the structural causes of men’s malaise. (41 min)
+ Want to save this article to read later? Click here and save it to Pocket, which lets you read on any device, anytime. (I use Pocket to make this newsletter.) Let me know if you try it out!
+ Read more about toxic masculinity in Issues #111, #157, and #192.
The Porch Pirate of Potrero Hill
At first glance, this is a story of a woman who steals Amazon packages from stoops in San Francisco. But add in racism, gentrification, white liberals, economic inequity, and private surveillance, and you get a complex, multilayered case study that reveals our frayed social bonds and our inability to move past villain-victim, either-or thinking and toward resolution and reconciliation. (38 min)
+ Big thanks to loyal reader Christine for sending me this piece! Want to nominate an article?
How Bubble Tea Became a Complicated Symbol of Asian American Identity
No, I’m not (currently) a diehard aficionado of bubble tea, but my goddaughter Athena is, and so is everyone else. You are, too, right? Just when I thought this article was going to stick to explaining the history and popularity of boba, it hit overdrive and took off — exploring issues of nostalgia, Asian American identity, and the commodification of culture. The writing is out there at times, but overall, I appreciated gaining insight on boba’s impact. (Maybe now I’ll become a connoisseur.) (22 min)
Dolly Parton’s America: “I Will Always Leave You”
Looking for some badassery this week? Here’s some Dolly Parton for you. This inspiring podcast episode about Ms. Parton’s rise to fame is worth your listen, even if you’re not a country music fan. You’ll learn how Ms. Parton left abusive Porter Wagoner to become a megastar, plus how she wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” the same night. If that’s not enough, there’s the back story of Whitney Houston’s version of the song, too. (55 min)
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